From Deconstruction to Reconstruction: The Change in Higher Education over the Last Twenty Years

I entered a liberal arts college in 1982 and a leftward-leaning seminary in 1986.  I entered both with much naivete looking to become a minister who would be knowledgeable about the Scriptures and theology.  In the process I double-majored in history.  I can tell you that although higher education certainly opened my mind to many new and wonderful things, the entire process was primarily an education in how to be a skeptic.  We were basically taught, both explicitly and implicitly, that there was no such thing as “Truth” with a capital “T”; there were always exceptions that belied everything I learned in Sunday School or church or any of the moral norms of my provincial upbringing.  All things were relative; there were no absolutes.  Human beings essentially lived in a vacuum where they were making things up as they went along.  All that existed were individual narratives, one as true as the next.

I was too young to know then, but my beliefs were being subjected to what I later discovered is called, “deconstruction.”  In other words, my local, backward, and conservative ideas needed to be challenged by the cosmopolitan lights of my professors.  Now don’t get me wrong; I challenge kids everyday.  Since August, we’ve read Gilgamesh, Hammurabi, Homer (Odyssey), Herodotus, and the Greek tragedies, along with translating Caesar’s Gallic Wars.  Add to that several books of the Old Testament.  But I don’t leave kids to wallow in the mire; I help them to process information in a Christian framework.  All education happens within a worldview; the question is which one.  But back to my story.  I was challenged and “deconstructed” at schools which did me a disservice; it took me years to unlearn, not the details of the lectures I endured (which I have largely forgotten), but the corrosive habit of mind that higher education fostered within me. 

And should we now be surprised that after forty years of preaching relativism in our schools we live in a vacuum where truth is a product more of creation than discovery?  Indeed, with the advent of social media, former President Barack Obama, the Constitutional scholar, who has bemoaned “truth decay” birthed by the Internet and the multiplicity of news outlets serving niche communities, has now offered the UNconstitutional and DANGEROUS proposal that “we’re going to have to find a combination of government regulations and corporate practices that address [what’s true from what’s false], because it’s going to get worse” (“Why Obama Fears for Our Democracy,” The Atlantic November 16, 2020, digital).  Thus, Obama proposes government regulation of speech—as if the mainstream media, Twitter and Facebook didn’t fill this role already.  Well, Mr. President, our colleges and universities have sown the wind and now we reap the whirlwind.

(One might remind Mr. Obama that the Roman Catholic Church didn’t like it when the printing press was invented in the fifteenth century, but liberal societies have always argued that the good of an open and free society was worth the dangers of misinformation.  I guess we don’t believe that anymore.)

My point so far is this: in the 80s and 90s, higher education was about the task of deconstructing the provincial ideas of the kids sent their way.  BUT THE LAST TWENTY YEARS HAVE SEEN A MAJOR SHIFT: Having triumphed in the task of deconstruction and teaching amorality, higher education has now taken a 180 degree turn preaching to kids that there IS Morality, that there is Truth with a capital “T” after all; it’s just not the morality which I and the vast majority of the people reading this post (if anyone out there is) always thought it was.  To sum, all that we thought was right is now wrong and all we thought was wrong is now right—AND WE ARE THE IMMORAL ONES!  Chick-Filet has been denied doing business in several venues because their now deceased founder’s beliefs about human sexuality and marriage are “immoral.”  Likewise, a restaurant in Lexington, KY, deemed it immoral to serve Sarah Huckaby Sanders and her family dinner for the same reason.

This is all to say that after so many decades of deconstructing the usually more conservative ideas of young people, higher education is now about the task of “reconstructing” the minds of young people, and after a certain order that is contrary to the order of most Americans—and yes, including many of those who vote Democrat.  Whereas before they challenged everything that we thought was right and then left us to fend for ourselves, now they tell these kids exactly what to believe and, as several studies have shown, intimidate those students who refuse to comply.  University professors in Humanities departments throughout our land are every bit the evangelists that any evangelical Christian ever was—only worse in that they do not believe in the founding principles of our Republic!   And so under the banner of “Social Justice,” millions of young people have been brainwashed to believe that they are the unfortunate citizens of an irredeemably corrupt nation, born of slavery and genocide, which history has little if anything praiseworthy to record, and that freedom of speech and religion are “privileges” used to oppress minorities, all of which reside in a moribund eighteenth-century document that must be either shelved or reinterpreted so that such privileges are “modified” according to a more socially-acceptable agenda ensuring that no one who subscribes to the new morality is ever offended—and they’re the ones who get to decide what’s offensive.  And many of these are the young white kids leading the BLM movement.  YOU SOW THE WIND, YOU REAP THE WHIRLWIND.

So this is what I have seen in higher education in the last forty years: FROM DECONSTRUCTION TO RECONSTRUCTION along the lines I have outlined.  And that’s what has happened in higher education, and that’s what has happened to our young people, and that’s why I teach in a Classical Christian school and homeschooled my daughters in the same way, and that’s why if I didn’t believe in a sovereign God I don’t know what I’d do.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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